Relearn to Move with Video Games

Stroke survivors can regain motor function with video games

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Video games aren't just for kids, they can be fun for adults too! But now it seems like video games can be more than just entertainment...they may be able to help stroke victims on their path to recovery.

Researchers found that stroke patients who played video games were able to regain some of their motor skills - or the ability to feel what one's muscles are doing in order to complete an action.

"Video games may help patients recover from stroke."

Gustavo Saposnik, M.D., M.Sc., F.A.H.A., and colleagues looked at 12 studies on virtual reality as treatment for stroke. About two thirds of people who survive stroke go on to have motor skill problems of the arm, Saposnik writes. This leads to a poorer quality of life for these patients.

Virtual reality treatment was given within four to six weeks of stroke in nine of the studies, and within two to three weeks in three of the studies.

While more research needs to be done, the researchers believe that video games could be a useful tool to improve upper arm movement if they are combined with the current therapies for stroke victims.

The Study

  • 195 stroke survivors were included in the study
  • Five of the studies were randomized clinical trials, and seven were observational studies
  • Patients in the five randomized controlled trials were nearly five times more likely to improve motor function after virtual reality treatment
  • Patients in the observational studies had a 20 percent improvement in motor function after virtual reality treatment
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Review Date: 
May 12, 2011
Last Updated:
May 13, 2011